I can’t say that I am not disappointed in Mother Nature this spring.

Though quite happy with the many warm days through our winter months, I get a little bitchy during a long, drawn-out spring. Yet I have lived sufficient years to have witnessed a higher number of similar springs than I care to admit.

I recollect a spring in my younger years in which most of our farming neighbours had finished their spring seeding by the first week in April. These same farmers, after a following two-week cold snap, were replanting frost-damaged crops well into the first weeks of June, with strong hopes, and perhaps weak prayers, of a long open fall.

Memory, too, recalls a spring in which on the 10th of April, I strapped on my snowshoes and went for a tramp along the snowbanks that had recently formed along most of the hedgerows. The snow that had drifted there, more often than not, was two and three feet deep. I did this, as I could often flush up rabbits, both cottontail and Jack, partridge, pheasants and squirrel, as their whereabouts could easily be detected by their tracks in fresh fallen snow.

As the economics of the Great Depression had not yet totally departed from rural route pockets, I usually carried a short-stocked 22-calibre rifle with me, for any wild game shot was appreciated and ended up gracing the soup pot that permanently simmered, beside the tea-kettle, on the back corner of the old cast-iron woodstove.

On one occasion, I recall the tears that could not be withheld when I found an occasional robin and an untold number of bluebirds lying dead in the late spring snow, early arrivals that had died of starvation after their long, tireless flight from the south, their tiny bodies about half the weight of normal.

On another occasion, during the dead of winter in February, not spring, the breeding season for vixen, I saw a pair of foxes playing along a length of snowdrifts.

They were tossing high in the air and recatching something that I could not readily identify. On getting closer, I realized the birds they were tossing up in the air were dead or crippled snowbirds.

A couple of snowmobilers had zipped up and down the snowdrifts the night before, in the moonlight, entirely innocent of the fact that their few moments of exhilarating joyriding had killed literally hundreds of snowbirds. A huge flock of these far north wintering birds had dived into the soft drifts of snow, as they do on their far north tundra, to sleep out of the wind and weather, tucked within their own warm feather blankets for the night. As a point of interest, pheasants, partridges and rabbits quite often do this also.

On the lighter side, twin goats were born just after breakfast time this morning, and within just a few minutes they were up on their feet and nursing well from their mother. Checking about an hour later, they were bouncing, stiff-legged, around in catch-me-if-you-can circles.

Mother Nature sure has a way of presenting gifts to the world in cute and fun loving little packages.

Take care, ’cause we care.




Barrie Hopkins